Assigning meaningful homework in elementary mathematics
Many teachers assign mathematics homework routinely without considering
the potential learning the assignment provides. This resource will help teachers
to consider alternative forms of homework. It might be productive for
a mentor and new teacher to use this checklist to plan a week's worth
of homework together.
Homework can reinforce or deepen understandings students develop during
the school day. It can also offer parents a chance to see the kind of
work their children are doing in school. However, simply assigning problems
from the math book is unlikely to accomplish these goals. Below is a
checklist of various forms of homework that require different sorts of
engagement from students. Try using it to consider new homework possibilities:
Homework ideas
Could students make a game
to practice the day's lesson?
 Children can use index cards to adapt common games
like concentration, go fish, and rummy for mathematics.
 Children can also write questions onto board games
like checkers.

Could children engage in some
kind of scavenger hunt?
 Newspapers and magazines are filled with numbers,
charts and graphs.
 The world is filled with geometric shapes and objects.
 Children can bring in the objects themselves or
draw pictures.

Could children write about
what they learned?
 Having children restate the day's big ideas gives
you a chance to check for conceptual as well as procedural
understanding.
 Having children ask questions based on what
they learned gives you a chance to connect lessons from day
to day.

Could children choose from
one of a few possible assignments?
 You could offer two types of problems from the
book or one traditional and one alternative assignment.
 Children
could have a folder of possible work and choose one piece
to complete each night.

Could children practice algorithmic
problems for a certain amount of time, rather than a certain
number of problems?

Could children do one significant
problem rather than a series of identical ones?

In an associated resource, you can read about one beginning teacher's exploration of challenging
homework assignments.
